Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Unsurprisingly, a debate about prostitution has erupted in the US after it emerged New York governor Elliot Spitzer had sex with several prostitutes. Melissa Farley and Victor Malarek argue in a piece in the NYT that the notion that prostitution is a victimless crime is a myth: "Whether the woman is in a hotel room or on a side street in someone’s car, whether she’s trafficked from New York to Washington or from Mexico to Florida or from the city to the suburbs, the experience of being prostituted causes her immense psychological and physical harm. And it all starts with the buyer." This, to put it mildly, is not an argument I buy - I have long thought prostitution ought to be legal, only coercive (and child) sex-work ought to be combated. What consenting adults get up to behind closed doors (whether it involves money or not) is nobody's business. Luckily, this is a topic the wonderful Greta Christina has taken on, so don't take my word for it.

An academic debate has also ensued: why would Spitzer risk his career for 10 minutes of pleasure? Over at Psychology Today's blog collective a vibrant discussion is taking place (especially in the comments). Kramer reposted an article he had written in 1998 to explain why Clinton had risked it all, and then Kanazawa responded with an evolutionary psychological view.

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